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William & Mary eliminates single-use plastics in dining halls

The school's Dining Services is also composting all food waste.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Goodbye, plastics! In 2019, William & Mary has completely stopped using single-use plastics in its dining halls.

As part of the university’s ongoing sustainability efforts, its dining services implemented a phase-out to use up its remaining stock on the way to using new alternatives, according to Stephen Moyer, W&M Sadler Center Court operation manager.

“Plastic waste has permeated the world around us, and we are taking steps to reduce the creation of that waste on campus,” said W&M Director of Sustainability Calandra Waters Lake. “Even more impactful than recycling, the rethinking and reducing that dining has done through this initiative sets an example that we hope to continue to expand.”

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William & Mary made some serious swaps to make this happen. Small changes such as swapping reusable metal or compostable cups for plastic cups at omelet and waffle stations were quick and easy. Compostable cups for takeout smoothies were phased in as well. Plastic cups for jelly, butter and cream cheese were switched for larger bulk containers made out of different materials.

The school also offers compostable cutlery kits for take-out. The Dining Services is also composting all food waste.

The school's next step is to continue to work on the retail side in Marketplace and with national brands on campus such as Chick-fil-A and Starbucks as they implement sustainability efforts. 

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The Green Restaurant Association evaluated all aspects of W&M Dining as part of its recent certification. The process included examining the environmental practices of the entire operation including what’s bought locally, how much is composted and what types of vendors are used. It covered the two dining halls, catering department and Marketplace, which is the largest retail outlet.

Click here to learn more about William & Mary's sustainability plan.